Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Diverse Portraits of Women by German Artist Anita Ree 1885-1933



Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Teresina 1926 Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Portrait de la paysanne Lionarda 1921Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Woman as SpainAnita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Bildnis Frau Zoepfel, 1928Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Madchen Bildnis 1922Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Ani
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Impact of the Nazi Regime on Women Artists - German Anita Ree 1885-1933



Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Self Portrait

Anita Rée was born in Hamburg, Germany, into a family of Jewish shipping merchants. She was the younger of two daughters. Her Venezuelan mother was half Jewish with Indian ancestry. Ree studied painting in Germany under Arthur Siebelist, & spent 6 months in Paris taking lessons with Fernand Léger.

Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Self Portrait

In 1913, she started working as an artist living at home in Hamburg; but after her father died in 1916, she experenced financial difficulties. In 1919, she became a founding member of the avant-garde Hamburgische Sezession group & remained a member until her death, regularly exhibiting with the group. From 1922 until 1925, she lived in Positano, Italy.

Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Self Portrait 1915

After her return to Germany, her paintings were in demand, but the political climate was changing. Lonely & fearing persecution because of her Jewish ancestry, she grew increasingly depressed at the disbanding of the Hamburg Secession. In the summer of 1932, Anita Rèe decided to leave Hamburg to take refuge on the island of Sylt (a North Sea island off the mainland where Germany borders Denmark). She lived there in unheated rooms, alone, and constantly worried she did not have enough money to survive. She considered fleeing abroad but was afraid she did not have enough money for such a plan.

Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Half Nude before Prickly Pear 1922-25

Works of art by the Secessionists & many other artists were classified by the Nazis as "entartete Kunst" (degenerate art). Anita Ree, Alma del Banco, Willy Davidson, Kurt Löwengard, & Gretchen Wohlwill were the most renown of the Jewish artists who were members of the avant-garde "Sezession" group.

Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Portrait of  Hildegard Heise

Ree was increasingly worried by German political developments in 1933, & felt she could not survive in that culture. In December of 1933, she committed suicide by taking poison. She wrote to a friend, "I can no longer live in such a world and have no other wish than to depart that to which I no longer belong ..."

Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Self Portrait 1929

In 1937, the Nazi's used 16 pieces of her work for their Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibition. Nearly forgotten, an exhibition in 1987 brought her work back into the public eye. She is now considered the one of the most famous of the Hamburg Secessionists.

Anita Ree (German artist, 1885-1933) Self Portrait 1932

See the impact of the Nazi Regime on other artists here.


Impact of the Nazi Regime on Women Artists - Self Portraits - Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler (German artist, 1899-1940)

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Portrait of Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler by Her Husband Kurt LoshseElfriede Lohse-Wächtler (1899-1940) was born in Dresden where, in 1915, she attended the Dresden School for the Decorative & Applied Arts. She also studied drawing & painting with Otto Gussmann at the Dresden Fine Art Academy.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-PortraitIn 1919, Elfriede Wächtler came into contact with Franz Pfemfert's circle, the Berlin Dadaists and, most importantly, the Dresden Secession Group. Lohse-Wächtler rented space in Felixmüller's Dresden studio to work as a freelance illustrator.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait, c. 1930Otto Dix and Conrad Felixmüller of the Dresden Secessionists introduced Elfriede Wächtler to the artist & singer Kurt Lohse, & they married in 1921. In 1925, the couple moved to Hamburg, where Kurt Lohse found employment as a chorus singer, but they separated in 1926.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-PortraitElfriede Lohse-Wächtler's most creative phase coincided with the Hamburg period. Her main works between 1927-1931, in oil, pastel & watercolour included city views, self-portraits, couples, prostitutes, & the working-class environment. In 1928, she participated in several New Objectivity exhibitions.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait

After a nervous breakdown, Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler was hospitalized in the Hamburg-Friedrichsberg psychiatric clinic in 1929, where she produced the "Friedrichsberger Heads", about 60 drawings of in pastels of fellow psychiatric patients.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-PortraitAfter her recovery, Lohse-Wächtler experienced another productive phase; &, in 1930-31, showed her work at venues including the prestigious Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-PortraitAfter her her mental state deteriorated again, Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler returned to her parents' home in Dresden in 1931. At her father's instigation, she was committed to the Arnsdorf psychiatric institution, where she was diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, The Absinth Drinker (Self-Portrait), 1931
Initially, Lohse-Wächtler had the opportunity to continue her artistic work in Arnsdorf. After the Nazi-régime came into power in 1933, she was "asked" to agree to a voluntary sterilization.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-PortraitShe would not agree to the sterilization and, as a consequence, lost all her "privileges," including producing art.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait 1931In 1935, she was declared mentally incompetent, her marriage with Kurt Lohse was dissolved, and she was sterilized by force under the Nazi Euthanasia Program.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait in Fantastic Company, 1931
Defamed as "degenerate art" in 1937, Lohse-Wächtler's work was in part destroyed. Finally she was killed by the Nazi régime, dying in the gas chamber at Pirna-Sonnenschein under the regulations of the "T4" euthanasia program for the mentally ill in the summer of 1940.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait
Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait

See the impact of the Nazi Regime on other artists here.

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